By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 17, 2009
President Obama will make his first official trip to sub-Saharan Africa this summer, the White House announced today, spending two days in Ghana with his wife, Michelle, after visiting Russia and Italy.
The visit of the first African American U.S. president will be heavy with symbolism. Obama is likely to draw a huge crowd from across the continent during the brief stay.
Press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement yesterday that Obama will meet with Ghanaian President John Atta Mills in Accra to discuss a variety of issues.
"The President and Mrs. Obama look forward to strengthening the U.S. relationship with one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa, and to highlighting the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development," Gibbs said.
Obama announced earlier this month that he will visit Egypt on June 4 to deliver an address to the Muslim world.
The Ghana visit, scheduled for July 10-11, will follow a trip to Moscow, where Obama is expected to meet with President Dmitry Medvedev to continue discussions on a new nuclear arms reduction treaty. Obama will then attend the Group of Eight meetings in L'Aquila, Italy, before heading to the western coast of Africa.
As a senator in 2006, Obama visited his ancestral village in Kenya and parts of Chad. The trip was part of a taxpayer-funded congressional tour that he took as a member of the Africa subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
At the time, thousands of people lined up to see Obama's motorcade. He was already a sensation on the African continent as a young, prominent and successful African American politician.
But this summer's trip as president is likely to have even more appeal.